Excitable chaos ensues until attractions are formed and, eventually, a degree of apparent calm is restored.

The past weeks in the AI world have been just like that. Exponential View, a platform for tech analysis says: “Chat GPT does not give you an answer to a question. It tells you what answers to questions like yours tend to look like.”

Which means that we should train ourselves instinctively to doubt what AI writes and, more than that, how to edit everything produced by an AI search engine because it uses an anonymous and hidden dataset. The anonymity is important when we form our judgments about it. You need, we all need, the skill to evaluate and edit everything produced by AI however plausible it seems.

Editing means significantly more than checking grammar and spelling. It means to look with a hyper-critical eye for the differences between believable and not, for an actual answer.

There’s something else that is pleasing to know: generally everything written by a machine is dull.

This point was illuminated in a Tim Adams Guardian interview with Prof. Mary Beard. ”I had written one of my first academic papers and given it [to my Professor] to read. He said something about my paper which I’ve never forgotten: ‘It may be right, Mary, but it’s bloody boring.’ Up until that moment I had always believed writing was just about saying what you wanted to say. But after that I realised there was someone else involved: you had to think about the reader.”

And that is where AI loses its value and integrity. Its focus is entirely on the answer it gives to the person who asks the question and only on them. The person who reads the answer is invisible. AI is, in other words, obsequious, ingratiates itself and fawns over you. It is the Uriah Heep of search engines; a digital sycophant.